LaScalla "horn" sound compared to "maggie" sound


I am quite satisfied with the sound I have with my current system, but am looking for a little spice and variety in my life.  There is a set of circa 1977  LaScalas available in my part of the country and I wonder how the sound might be as compared to my current Magnepan 1.7 set up?  I know it is apples and oranges, but I like both.  Chocolate is my favorite ice cream, but I also like strawberry sometimes.

My general understanding, or perhaps misunderstanding, is that the Lascala/horn type of speaker has the wonderful life-like midrange, are quite dynamic, won't go real low in the bass region, and may be sweet or ragged on the top end depending on who you talk to, set up, and what you feed them.

I could go listen to these, but the sources are inferior and the room would be different from mine.  I really can't get a good grip on a different sound until I can sit back in the Hefty-Boy and assimilate it slowly.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

My current system is:

TT- VPI Classic 1 with Soundsmith Zephyr cart.
Phono stage- Herron Audio VTPH2
Digital/CD- Simaudio Moon Supernova
Preamp- Herron Audio VTSP3A
Power Amp- Bryston 4BSST2
Subs- Rel T5's
abnerjack
I haven't heard those LaScalla's since college. They were in a huge room record store. Because of that, I never considered buying them because I thought they needed space to open up.
Your Maggies are great speakers, I am considering buying a pair-despite being a Vandy man.
Do you have subs with the Maggies?

I say, go for it and consider it a learning process.

Thanks gdnbob.  Yes I'm running a set of REL T5's which vastly improved the top to bottom sound of the Maggies.
I wonder how the Bryston is going to play with LaScala.  I have heard various vintage LaScalas and Klipschorns, but always with tubes.  

We are talking about different animals, but in my home theater I have Klipsch KLF-20s.  I had them with a NAD amp for a very short while, but quickly hooked back up my super liquidy (i.e., colored!) sounding 90s-era Denon monoblocks.  Accounting for one coloration with another probably isn't the best approach, but my theater sounds great.  :)


cedargrover,

I had read that lots of people like tubes with the Heritage Klipsch speakers.  I would be willing to go with a little tuber if it came to it. The LaScallas are super efficient and can be powered, I have read, with low power amps like a SET.   I would be curious to hear what the sound would be like with the Bryston and the Herron, which is a tube pre.
Please keep us updated if you end up taking the plunge.
You are talking about radically different sound qualities from what you have now.  I suspect you would find the La Scalas very bright in your rig, perhaps to the point of being unlistenable.  300W is far too much for that design, IMO.  The stories you've heard about the old school Klipsch speakers liking tubes is true; having heard Klipschorns, La Scalas in both home and pro versions, home Cornwalls and both home and pro Heresys in several different environments, every time I heard them with tubes, they just sounded more natural.  Solid state amps tended to make them bright to the point of brash.  Bass never seemed to be lacking to me; all of them were fitted with comparatively large woofers.

If you can get a good deal on the La Scalas, you might find it fun to experiment with tube power.  That would be for your budget to decide.  Being totally objective however, unless you really, really want a completely different sound, you should probably pass.  La Scalas are very large, heavy and don't take kindly to cramped spaces, low ceilings or hard floors.  They were designed at a time when amplifiers didn't have much power, so Paul Klipsch designed them to be hyper-efficient and handle up to 100W continuous.  I believe he was quoted as saying "Now if only someone would make a decent 100W amp..."

Your call either way.  Good luck & happy listening!
Magneplanar wants you to avoid using subs with their speakers (tho many people do).

If you like the 1.7, you might want to try the 3.7i (which is acoustically smaller than the 1.7s).  You can reinforce the bass with their DWM panels also (these can be disguised as coffee tables too as long as they are as far away as the speakers).

Then there are the 20s....

How large is your room?
effischer,

Thanks, that's the kind of info I'm looking for.

randy-11,

I am very satisfied with the sound of the 1.7s and have not intention of replacing them.  I'm just looking for something different and wondered about the sound of the LaScalas.
I have only heard Maggies in stores but I owned a pair of La Scalas for a couple of years.  They are extremely dynamic speakers that can give a feeling of listening to live music.  The bass doesn't go extremely low but it is very quick and realistic sounding.  Depending on the room, you can probably get usable bass response into the mid to upper 40's.  I put Bob Crites crossovers and tweeters in mine and it really opened up the sound, but the crossovers had 30 year old capacitors in them, so it was time for replacement of those parts.  They really like a big room, the bigger the better, although I thought they worked well in my 21 x 12 foot room.  The downside, other than the shear size of the suckers, is they are bright in the upper midrange/lower treble region.  Some folks seem more sensitive to this than others.  Also, they don't do detail as well as many modern designs.  I never heard them with tubes, but many say they really shine with low power tube amps.  Oh, and if you like to tinker, there are a million things you can do to them to tailor the sound to your liking.  Kind of reminds me of the muscle cars of my youth -- no one ran them stock.  Definitely a different experience than your Maggies.
Crap, misspelled "sheer."
Ver interesting. I am a former La Scala owner and currently own Magnepan .7's with subwoofer reinforcement. Actually, I had toyed with the idea of trying the Heresy III's recently for similar reasons as you. I listen to a lot of electric blues and thought they might be a nice fit. However, whenever I switched from Maggies(owned several) to a conventional box speaker I missed that sense of "height" the Maggies offer. Back to the La Scalas, they made my ears bleed. I had a nice McIntosh solid state integrated amp paired with them. In my room they were unbreakable. Plus, they are large and cumbersome looking to me. I think that there are better choices in the heritage line. That's my two cents, been there. Good luck and enjoy the journey!
hard to beat a line source...
I went from planars to horns back in 2006, sort of the reverse process--though it was Quads, not Maggies, and Avantgarde Duos, not Klipsch. So, I can't speak to the specific speakers you are talking about (though I played with Maggies many times back in the day), I can tell you about my experience in general. The horn speaker, for me, was more persnickety about everything upchain--and the SQ varied dramatically based on the rest of the system. Midrange was comparable to a good stat, but with a far more "in the room" quality and that so-called "jump" factor.  Same issues of bass lightness or discontinuity as stats when it came to mating woofers- of course, the original big K-horn solved that by corner loading. Size of image- Maggies present huge. It's fun, great for large scale music, my recollection was that they didn't have the pinpoint imaging that stats did- though more modern Maggies with ribbon tweeters and judicious set up may improve that. Horns- you don't even care about image, as such, because the of the "in the room" quality. --'Tis fun to have both. I just got my old Quad '57s restored. My horns are in storage awaiting a new room. 
I have owned MG 1.6 (powered by Bryston 3B) and LaScalla (powered by Audio Research VSi55). I liked both speakers, but as someone mentioned, they are very different animals. I don't think you will be satisfied with the large Bryston powering the LaScallas. My guess is they will be forward and bright and harsh. You are better with a small tube amp or even an old Marantz receiver (I also used a 2215b and it sounded good although not the final word in resolution). The Magnepans provide a transparent sound that makes instruments sound "real" and the LaScalla will definitely impart its own characteristics on the sound (not transparent) and instruments will not sound as real. Don't get me wrong, I do admire the Klipsch heritage speakers and presently own a pair of K-Horns and Belle's. I enjoy listening to them with jazz music because the horn reproduces a horn instrument (Trumpet, Sax) very nicely and the sound is very dynamic. However if you want an acoustic guitar to sound like it is in the room with you, the Magnepans will do that but the Klipsch won't. Again totally dependent on personal taste. Good luck with your decision.  
I powered once LaScalla with Pioneer SX626 solid state receiver and it seemed to be a very sound match

I have owned, Magnapan MMG, MG3.6 with Mye stands, Klispsh Lascalla and Cornwalls over the past 10 years.


First off you dont need a lot of power with the vintage klipsh SET to 30 push pull is fine. Lascalls are more punchy while Cornwall's more balanced and smaller. They both can image well if properly placed and bass punch is outstanding if the high end bothers you, their are plenty of cheap fixes, parts for the x-over (easy install) dampening the horns (again easy).


I would say if you can get the klipsh for under 750 its worth a try then find a dynaco st70 for under 500.

If you really want to experement wait for Cornwalls with a 2a3 or 300b tube SET amp Its magic


Magnepans are great, but they do not have the impact of the klipsch. As someone said apples and oranges/


if horns, then first watt
My 2 cents. I am on my 3rd pair of Lascalas, and have owned most panel type speakers, as well as many box speakers. Klipsch heritage can sound nasty, or sound excellent. Crossover mods ( and type ), horn and cabinet damping, associated equipment, all play a vital role in what you get out of a Klipsch. Any room that can handle a pair of Maggies, can handle Lascalas, ime. I do play music on the louder side, and, want as much dynamics, as possible, from my recordings. It is part of what live, unamplified music is all about. My latest pair of Lascalas, are tonally true to instruments and voices, are completely coherent, and easily convey the recorded space ( depth, width, height ), as any speaker I have ever owned, listened to, or, have sold to my clients.....you get the picture. Good horns, and all of the associated set up, can do what nothing else can do. Come closest to live. I am not putting anybody, or their systems, down. Audiogon, I have found, is not the nicest place to visit, if you want to learn about, or own horns. The Klipsch site, is the place to be. Klipsch and Maggies are different animals, for sure, and they both bring enjoyment to their owners. It is all about what, as a listener, you are looking for. Thank you for reading my post. Mr.D.
I wanted to add one more thing. I am not a head banger, any more at least, and at moderate, or even lower volumes, dynamics, both micro, as well as macro, are 2nd to none. A virtue of horns. MrD.

Nice post, MrD.
Yes indeed, nice posts by all you folks.  It has been very informative and piques my interest in the Klipsch and horns in general.  The guy had initially advertised the LaScallas on Craiglist for $1250.  That didn't seem out of line for a set of these, but then some time after having a phone conversation with him, he sent me an email apologizing for unintentionally misleading me about the price - he had meant to specify $1250 each/$2500 for the set.  This seems a little steep for a stock pair of 1977's.  I will keep my eyes open for another opportunity.  I will continue to learn and would appreciate more opinions on this type of speaker.
@whart,

what you said about imaging being a non issue because of the in room presence with horns was something I heard first hand recently and was exactly what I was thinking at the time. The gentleman had modified a pair of Klipschhorns with Oris horns on top driven by Welborne set amps and Hypex amps on the bass bins. It was astonishing, unlike anything I've heard from expensive stats or box speakers.

The in room presence and lifelike presentation was truly remarkable.

Sir:  I own 4 pairs of Wilson's , 4-5 pairs of Pro-Ac's, 4-5 Pairs of large Altec's and 2 pairs of Lascallas and 1/2 a pair of K-horns.......I bought my LaScallas from a guy on Craiglist list for 500.00 if he would deliver them to me  (about 100 miles away)....The guy shows up with these speakers in the back of 53 chevy pick-up........He told me he bought them out of a air-plane hangar in Germany and shipped them back to his home in the US.....They looked like they had been dragged back from Germany.......They were  big time beat up.........I hooked them up to one of my 2 watt tube amps and it was over for me.........I quickly went out and bought another pair for 800.00 and carried them home, the woofers were blown up so the seller gave me back 400.00.....I cut those in half like the "VOLTI" mods and am in the process of painting them Black high gloss lacquer........Don't listen to them if you don't have room for them or you will be putting a addition on your house......autospec
Good horns are "in your face" alive like nothing else.  None of the big Klipsch speakers I've heard can deliver the very bottommost bass via the horn - it would have to be too large - but that never bothered me while listening.  The condition of the crossover and tweeter really matter and upgrades can be very effective.  To me tiny Class A tube amps - the DHTs in particular - sound best with them.  These setups can stand your hair on end and blow it back.

Paul Klipsch said that the world needed a good FIVE watt amp.  The average home speaker produces about 87dB sound level output at 1 meter with 1 watt electrical input.  Klipschorns, I believe, produce 105dB. Remember that each 3dB increase is twice as loud...  the Klipschorns will play 64 times as loud as the average speaker with the same input power.  With the horn acoustically loading the drivers, they also present a very benign load to the amplifier - unlike screen speakers they are an easy load for tube amps no matter how small.
I have owned both Lascalas, and Maggie 1.6. The Lascalas need a big room. I drove Lascalas with a 45 tube amp. Nothing I have ever heard approached the live like dynamics of the Lascalas in my room. I have owned scores of speakers. Only a 45 tube amp seemed to tame somewhat the "slight glare" of the high frequency horns in the Lascalas. Forget solid state. I had 2a3 and 300b, but 2 watts of 45 tube amp sounded best to me. Like I said though, it tamed them "somewhat'. I ultimatlely could not take the glare despite xover upgrades, and room treatments, and sold them. I think my 12 by 24 ft. Room size had a lot to do with it also. If I ever get a house with a larger room, I will definately find another pair of Lascalas, or Klipschorns, and 45 amp.
abnerjack --

The potential of the LaScala’s is relative to a combination of factors which may deter somewhat from your present situation. A significant impact is your first listen which, as you already proposed, would take place in different surroundings and with different equipment. I’d wager you should still be able to gain some rudimentary understanding of the sonic abilities (and character) they possess. To get from here to a decision with regard to purchase may take a leap of faith, and if such a decision is made (or even prior to it) you would have to consider achieving their fuller potential; my first step here would be towards the right amplification which could include SET’s, SIT’s (solid state) or any single ended low wattage class-A solution (SS). At least as important would be considering a more widespread refurbishment of the LaScala’s themselves with the aid of the likes of ALK Engineering. What’s entailed here is new drivers for the mids and tweeters with new horns, and crossovers. Perhaps it might be preferable updating the bass drivers as well (from Bob Crites) being the pair you’re looking at are some 40 years old, but if they sound fine here I see no reason than to simply maintain them as they are. I know this refurbishment sounds radical, and it would add a significant expense, but this way you would come to avoid the shrillness or harshness some have reported to find in the original speakers, combined with a fuller, more effortless and rounded (i.e.: natural) sonic presentation.

You may have heard of US-based Volti Audio (who are also delivering upgrade kits to some of the Klipsch Heritage models) who are known for the Vittora model, which are from-ground-up built speakers heavily inspired by the LaScala’s. Reading reviews of them would give you an idea of the level of sonic potential following a refurbishment of the LaScala’s. Myself I own a pair of Simon Mears Audio Uccello’s, which are from-ground-up handmade speakers based on the Belle Klipsch (the "Belle" version of the LaScala’s) - the UK equivalent in a sense to the Vittora’s, but not sonically similar - but with different midrange and tweeter drivers + horns and crossovers compared to the Vittora’s. A review of the Uccello’s can be found over at Dagogo.com, which would also give you an idea of the sonic potential here.

Going by the Uccello’s you get a very coherent, dynamic, effortless, and crisp yet warm presentation. They’re very present-sounding and still easy on the ears. The overall presentation strikes one as an encompassing, lively-vibrant sphere. Their signature is grounded in the upper bass/lower midrange which seems to define the sound with a more resonant and rich presentation than found in typical direct radiating speakers, and this is where listeners are divided - at least as an outset. I find this to be both a character and a quality, for most speakers seem to rid the sound of an important energy and timbre found in live music in this particular frequency range, going instead rather anemic, lean or even bleached. What amazes me again and again is their prowess with classical music; piano in particular sounds more real and alive than most other speakers I’ve heard (and I’ve heard quite a lot), as does jazz in general - not least the saxophone, which is almost scary in its unrestrained there-ness, dynamics and natural tonality. Music seems un-covered. Studio productions are a mixed bag - the morphing soundscapes here vary wildly, from outright underwhelming and collapsing to rather natural and open. The sonic manipulations at play here borders the crazy. One area perhaps to emphasize with the Uccello’s is their midrange, which is downright spectacular. Forget about them being horns. Play them hellishly loud and they are absolutely stoic and fully at ease; play them low volume and yet they are informative and alive. The insight, cleanliness and naturalness of tone is something to behold. The bass rolls off quickly below 50-60Hz, but is tuneful, enveloping, and agile. Add subs if finding them too lean here, but not just any sub.

Sorry for the long post. Finally someone wrote about horns of the likes one can at least partially relate to. Hope some of what’s written here is useful.
phusis,

Thanks for your terrific post.  I shall continue my quest.

Your Uccello are great looking and apparently sound equally good. 

Cheers
Listened to the Santana and Abraxas cds, as well as LZep IV, during the last 48 hrs, and all I can say is, very enjoyable.
I've heard both designs many times and I personally feel Magnepan's are much purer and cleaner sounding. With the Klipshhorn La Scala, I always seemed to hear a "nasal, congested sound."
Get some horns someplace (used pro audio could be a source) and place them (maybe suspended on wires from the ceiling) on top of your Maggies. Best of both worlds, although it's gonna look strange and perhaps the sound will suck…but there ya go.